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The Managing Director of the London-based Caribbean Council, David Jessop, has been awarded an honorary Order of Distinction (Commander Class) by the Government of Jamaica for service to Jamaica and the Jamaican Diaspora.
Mr. Jessop told JIS News that he was flattered to be among those who will receive their honours and awards in Kingston on National Heroes Day (October 19).
“I was astounded and flattered that the Jamaican Government should recognise the contribution that I have made”, he said.
Jamaican High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, His Excellency Burchell Whiteman, said the honour to Mr. Jessop was well deserved.
“David Jessop has been constructively engaged with Caribbean Governments, diplomats and community representatives in the United Kingdom for many decades,” Mr. Whiteman said.
“He has shown genuine interest in the people of the region, and has applied his professional skills effectively to dealing with their issues. Jamaica has benefitted substantially from his advice, his ideas and the strength of his contact with and influence on members of the UK establishment,” Mr. Whiteman said.
Mr. Jessop, who has headed the Caribbean Council for the past 15 years, has been involved with the region for more than 35 years. He said that this association happened almost by accident.
“When I left University I was offered two jobs, one with the Grocer magazine and one with the (now defunct ) West Indies Chronicle, and this was something of a coincidence as the Caribbean was a lot in the news at the time because of the Grenadian Revolution,” he explained.
Working with the West Indian Chronicle also saw him doing freelance work with a number of British newspapers and the BBC, and editing the Caribbean Insight magazine for some years. This experience led to him being asked to head the Caribbean Council.
The official blurb on the Council’s website describes it as a London-based international organisation, which assists the development of the Caribbean through the promotion of the region’s interests internationally, and by encouraging new and increased trade and investment with Caribbean countries.
“We work on a range of issues including trade policy for both Governments and industries, for example the rum Industry, and we are working on the Airline Passenger Duty issue,” he said.
The Council also worked with the Regional Negotiating Machinery (RNM) of CARICOM, on the EPA (Economic Partnership Agreement) and with the Caribbean Diaspora in Britain to develop a voice for the community within the (British) Government.
“We also work with British companies to encourage more investments in the Caribbean,” he added.
In addition, the Caribbean Council provides consultancy and trade advisory services to corporate and public sector clients and produces a number of weekly news publications on the Caribbean.
The Caribbean Council’s parent company is the Caribbean Foundation, a development charity funded by the profits generated by the Council. These profits, Mr. Jessop said, are used to fund bursaries and scholarships for post-graduate students studying in the UK.
“It’s an unusual institution, we are development but with a business focus and a lot of our work is low keyed and behind the scenes,” he added.
Mr. Jessop who was born in London grew up in less than privileged circumstances.
“I am from a family that has always been committed to social justice, so while I had no personal connection to the Caribbean, a lot of the issues facing the region were about justice and equity,” he asserted.
“Over the years I have seen Jamaica as a country growing from what is still a very a strong relationship with the UK, to becoming a really independent country with a really clear sense of national identity and purpose. Despite the issues, Jamaica has diversified its international and regional relationships and, within another decade or two, will become even stronger”, he said.

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